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'Divergent,' with Shailene Woodley, ventures into the future

MoviesLiteratureShailene WoodleyBrian De PalmaTwentieth Century Fox Film Corp.Aaron Paul
"Divergent," starring Shailene Woodley and adapted from Veronica Roth's writings, arrives on DVD

Divergent

Summit, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD on Tuesday

Because no promising young actress in Hollywood should be without her own young-adult franchise, earlier this year Shailene Woodley starred in this adaptation of Veronica Roth's series of novels about a stratified future society and a young woman who doesn't fit in anywhere. Woodley's not as commanding as a sci-fi/fantasy heroine as Jennifer Lawrence is in "The Hunger Games" — and "Divergent's" premise isn't as clean, clear and thrilling as some other YA adaptations. But the cast is filled out by some terrific actors, including Ashley Judd, Miles Teller and Kate Winslet; and though not much about "Divergent's" plot or action is memorable, the movie does make great use of Chicago as a post-apocalyptic war zone. The DVD and Blu-ray add featurettes, deleted scenes and a commentary track by director Neil Burger.

Need for Speed

Buena Vista, $29.99; Blu-ray, $44.99

Available on VOD on Tuesday

Based very loosely on a series of racing video games, "Need for Speed" stars "Breaking Bad's" Aaron Paul as a mechanic-street racer who enters an illegal cross-country rally, intending to get back at the person responsible for his partner's fatal crash. Had "Need for Speed" been more like an existential 1970s gear-head movie — like "Two-Lane Blacktop" or "Vanishing Point" — it could've been a nice little B-picture for Paul to use to start building his film career. But though the movie did well internationally, it's overlong, overworked and largely forgettable, aside from some fleeting thrills in the racing sequences. Paul and director Scott Waugh contribute a commentary track to the DVD and Blu-ray, which also has deleted scenes, featurettes and a montage of the movie's coolest crashes.

Oculus

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD on Tuesday

As movies about killer mirrors go, writer-director Mike Flanagan's "Oculus" is actually clever, and genuinely scary. The scariness shouldn't be that surprising, because there's a long tradition in horror movies of people peering into mirrors and seeing something ghastly looming behind them. As for the cleverness, that's due to a novel storytelling approach — "Oculus" simultaneously follows a brother and sister (played by Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites) trying to solve the mystery of what happened to their parents, as well as the story of those parents (played by Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackhoff). The "Oculus" DVD and Blu-ray include deleted scenes, a featurette, a Flanagan commentary track and the short film on which the film was based.

Phantom of the Paradise

Shout! Factory Blu-ray, $29.93

Brian De Palma didn't just earn his reputation as a master of suspense because of how well he constructs sequences of killers stalking their prey, but because he works those sequences into movies that are passionate, witty, weird and pointed. One of De Palma's best is 1974's "Phantom of the Paradise," starring William Finley as a songwriter who literally gets ground up by the rock 'n' roll star-making machinery, having his talent exploited by an impresario played by Paul Williams. The Shout! Factory special edition DVD/Blu-ray set is worthy of this cult favorite, adding hours of interviews and commentary tracks with all of the film's major creative talent, including a conversation between Williams and Guillermo del Toro.

And…

God's Not Dead

Pure Flix. $24.99; Blu-ray, $29.99

Available on VOD on Tuesday

Ironclad: Battle for Blood

Xlrator, $14.99; Blu-ray, $20.99

Ping Pong Summer

Millennium, $28.99; Blu-ray, $29.99

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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MoviesLiteratureShailene WoodleyBrian De PalmaTwentieth Century Fox Film Corp.Aaron Paul
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